Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Wed 6.2.08, Morning

Observers: 
Eti K., Noga K. (a guest), Nurit V.L. (Reporting)
Feb-6-2008
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Morning

Translation: Rachel B.

7:10 AM: Za'tara - Tapu'ach Junction

There are no delays for traffic coming from the west.  Traffic from the north is stuck in a fairly major traffic jam.  A Reserve Unit is staffing the checkpoint.  The checkpoint commander, A., and another soldier (in civilian life they are both students) approached us of their own accord to talk.  They report that yesterday there was a curfew (lwdyb) because of the shooting the day before, but today it was cancelled. 
We pointed out the long line of cars coming from the north and the checkpoint commander opened a third inspection position.  The inspections were carried out quickly and without delays. 

It turned out that they have basically no information about our organization.  We explained things to them briefly and recommended they check our website.  We also gave them our cards.  We learned from them that along with taking their reserve duty very seriously and conscientiously, their view of the civilian population that has to go through the checkpoint is rather different than the view held by the soldiers serving their regular army duty.  Even though already when they were serving their regular tour of duty they began to take in the reality of what's going on {in a critical way}, they did not really change their views at the time {of regular service}.  As has been the case at other times, having reserve soldiers at the checkpoints eases the tension somewhat.

When we left the checkpoint there were only a handful of cars in line.

7:45 AM: Beit Furik

We barely "landed" at the checkpoint when we were asked to leave the area near the checkpoint and stand across the way, behind or on the side of the lines of cars ("That's what we have been told to tell you.").  We didn't argue.  However, we did mention that the upper parking lot is packed with cars waiting to be checked.  The soldiers answered that they are aware of it and are taking care of the situation.  A Palestinian man managed to call out to us that there is a detainee being held.  We asked the soldiers about the reason for the detention {of this man} and they clarified to us that this man is on the "wanted list" and was only detained 5 minutes ago.

The processing is conducted in a very thorough manner but with a smooth flow.  Cars are held for inspection an average of 1-2 minutes and there are two lanes for processing them.  Most of the traffic is in the direction of Nablus.
The pedestrian checkpoint section is also full. The pace of inspections and processing through is reasonable, even though there is one soldier stationed next to the turnstiles who insists that people go through "one-by-one."

Our guest took some pictures, as did I.  Suddenly, two soldiers approached us and tried to chase us away arguing that we took pictures of them.  I told them that I am aware of what may be photographed and what may not, and that I am willing to show them the pictures in the camerainfo-icon, and that, at any rate, this is not a closed military area and, therefore, they cannot chase us out.  Noga showed one of them that she erased the picture in which you could see an army vehicle in the background.  Our resistance to his request was stated very mildly, and we asked to make sure that they don't hold up the Palestinians being checked through in order to debate with us.  And, indeed, they let it go.

Beyond that, there were no unusual occurrences, only the familiar oppressive routine.

8:35 AM: Huwwara 

The parking lot is not full when we arrive.  The taxi drivers gather around us as soon as we get there to tell us of their hardships, especially how hard it is for them to make a living. The checkpoint is nearly empty.  A few pedestrians go through and get checked very thoroughly.

The car lanes are fairly empty. Once in a while a car arrives from either north or south.  On the southern approach we see the checkpoint commander, D., whom we know, and , thus, we can talk to him.  He also confirms that yesterday there was a curfew but today is a routine day.  He says that since the beginning of the week there is a reduction in the number of people coming through - perhaps because it is so cold.

8:50 AM:  A young man from Nablus asks for our help.  He wants to sell strawberries (which he buys in Israel) in the area of the checkpoint.  At the District Coordination Office (DCO) they would not give him a  permit on the grounds that will cause a mess and increase the chaos.  The checkpoint commander listened to him and explained that he is not authorized to give him a general permit, but that on the days that he {the commander} is there, he will let him sell the strawberries as long as he cleans up after himself.  T., from the DCO, joined our conversation and said that he will help him by trying to check on getting him a permit to sell at the checkpoint, like other peddlers get.
9:05 AM: An official group of guests from Norway arrived for a visit to A-Najach University and local schools.  They are supposed to stay overnight in Nablus and set out tomorrow morning.  They were given the travel permit and went thought, most of them on foot.

9:15 AM: The number of people going through the checkpoint increased somewhat and the parking lot is totally full.  All along only 2 stations are operating.  There is also a dog on hand with a handler and the scanner is working.

At a certain moment an alarm was heard. We thought there was an exercise in progress along the line of "Stopping Life" (unclear concept: "Myyx tqsph"), or perhaps there was a real incident happening, but things continued to proceed in the routine manner.


10:05 AM:
We left the checkpoint area.

The Burin/Yitzhar Junction was empty. 

At the Za'tara-Tapu'ach Junction there is a little bit of pressure from cars arriving from the north (12 cars in line), but nothing unusual.